Extreme environment

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Extreme Environments on Earth and Beyond:
– Extreme environments on Earth vary through geological time.
– Humans generally do not inhabit extreme environments.
– Extremophiles are organisms well-adapted to extreme conditions.
– Survival in extreme environments is challenging.
– Organisms in extreme environments exhibit evolutionary adaptation.
– Moons and planets in the Solar System are extreme environments.
– Astrobiologists have not found life beyond Earth.
– Tardigrades can survive outer space conditions.
– Terraforming aims to make non-Earth environments habitable.
– Environments beyond Earth are harsh for terrestrial organisms.

Types of Extreme Environments:
– Alkaline, acidic, hot, cold, salty, oxygen-free environments exist.
– Human-altered environments like mine tailings are extreme.
– Hypersaline environments have salt concentrations higher than seawater.
– Extreme pressure habitats include deep ocean areas.
– Radiation-exposed habitats are considered extreme.

Extreme Habitats and Species:
Polar ice caps, deserts, and ocean depths are extreme habitats.
– Species in extreme habitats need to be highly specialized.
– Microscopic organisms thrive in surprising places.
– Adaptation is crucial for survival in extreme habitats.
– Harsh conditions demand specialized species.
– Species in extreme environments have adapted over time.
– Species can adapt to different climate conditions.
– Many species can hibernate to survive.
– Flexibility with adaptation allows species to thrive.
– Different species have resided in extreme environments for generations.

Specific Extreme Environments:
– ‘Ecological and Environmental Physiology of Mammals’ by Withers et al. delves into mammalian adaptations.
– ‘Polar Lakes and Rivers’ by Vincent and Laybourn-Parry explores extreme aquatic environments.
Biology of Polar Regions:
– Thomas et al. discuss the unique biology of polar regions.
– Factors like extreme cold, limited sunlight, and ice cover impact polar ecosystems.
Research highlights the resilience of polar organisms.
– Adaptations in polar organisms include insulation, hibernation, and specialized diets.
Biodiversity in polar regions is lower compared to other regions.
Biology of Deserts:
– David Ward’s book covers the biology and adaptations of desert organisms.
– Deserts face challenges like extreme heat, aridity, and limited resources.
Desert plants and animals have evolved unique survival strategies.
– Adaptations in deserts include water conservation, nocturnal activity, and heat tolerance.
Biodiversity in deserts is surprisingly high despite harsh conditions.

Physiology and Ecology in Extreme Environments:
– ‘Annual Review of Physiology’ mentions physiological adaptations to extreme environments.
– NSF provides information on different types of extreme environments.
– PeckHart Landscaping inc. discusses the challenges of extreme environments.
– Carrier, Reitzel, and Heyland explore the ecology of marine invertebrate larvae.
– Marine larvae face challenges like predation, currents, and habitat selection.
– Larval forms have evolved diverse strategies for dispersal and survival.
Research focuses on larval development, behavior, and responses to environmental cues.
– Understanding larval ecology is crucial for marine ecosystem management.
– Physiology plays a key role in enabling organisms to survive in extreme conditions.
– Adaptations include changes in metabolism, body size, and reproductive strategies.
– Extreme environments pose challenges like temperature fluctuations and high salinity.
Research on extreme physiology helps in understanding limits to life on Earth.
– Comparative studies reveal common physiological strategies across different extreme environments.

An extreme environment is a habitat that is considered very hard to survive in due to its considerably extreme conditions such as temperature, accessibility to different energy sources or under high pressure. For an area to be considered an extreme environment, it must contain certain conditions and aspects that are considered very hard for other life forms to survive. Pressure conditions may be extremely high or low; high or low content of oxygen or carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; high levels of radiation, acidity, or alkalinity; absence of water; water containing a high concentration of salt; the presence of sulphur, petroleum, and other toxic substances.

Examples of extreme environments include the geographical poles, very arid deserts, volcanoes, deep ocean trenches, upper atmosphere, outer space, and the environments of every planet in the Solar System except the Earth. Any organisms living in these conditions are often very well adapted to their living circumstances, which is usually a result of long-term evolution. Physiologists have long known that organisms living in extreme environments are especially likely to exhibit clear examples of evolutionary adaptation because of the presumably intense past natural selection they have experienced.

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